This post is inexcusably late. My past week has been a whirlwind in every sense of the word. Friends visiting from Dubai, brother who arrived this past Saturday and work up to my ears. It’s been a lot of late nights at work and a very difficult time juggling all those balls plus my personal life, family back home and friends abroad. Nonetheless, my weekends continue to be sacred and distant from the stress of the week albeit devoid of much sleep and full of lots of walking!
As I mentioned last week, I had a fun Saturday in Lille with friends. Given it’s such a small city, we wrapped up the key sights in a day so we decided to head up to Belgium on Sunday. The initial plan was to visit Brugges or Ghent which we had all heard a lot about. Personally, I was pining for those little waterways and canals. Unfortunately, last minute planning combined with a limited train schedule would not allow that aspiration to be realized. And so we chose the closest Belgian city to Lille given we had a train to catch back to Paris that same evening… and just like that we ended up in the tiny little town of Mons. Dont let the fact that you may have not heard of it fool you, this is clearly a place of much seduction.
We hopped a train (after an adventurous morning run that put us on the platform literally 2 minutes before the train pulled into the station!) and headed across new borders to Mons, Belgium.
We exited the tiny station to be met with an incredible Sunday flower market that had us oohing and aahing before we had a chance to see anything of the city. At the instructions of the woman behind the counter selling train tickets, we headed past (and through!) the enormous Sainte-Waudru cathedral and towards the downtown area looking for a place where we could have brunch. After some wandering through a very deserted city, we ended up at the Grand Place. We probably walked the whole periphery before we landed at an adorable eatery where we enjoyed a great breakfast.
It seems the city came alive after that as we emerged to find it relatively more busy than it was just a couple of hours before that. A friend of mind said walking through the city reminded her of Universal Studios…that made me laugh. But that’s how stunning and immaculate it’s little streets were. You could imagine a film crew drooling over its quaint cobbled streets while scouting a location for an epic movie. We made a small detour to the Tourism office after brunch and devoured some pretty useful information that led to some great discoveries, gorgeous photos and a few interesting exhibitions including one on jazz and one on dragons drawn by children.
We also learned that Van Gogh lived in Mons before his career took off, back in the days when he was a priest. He had a house just outside the city that we unfortunately didn’t have time to visit. We also learned that Mons has been voted the Cultural Capital of Europe for 2015! Can you believe that? Way to go Mons! And hence all the museums, sites and attractions, including the UNESCO World Heritage Belfry tower were closed for rennovation. Who said the underdog cant rise?
I resisted the waffles and all other temptations but did buy myself some Belgian dark chocolate. I am proud to say my indulgences have been few and far between.
I must also say that I may work more hours in Paris than I did in Dubai (on average) but boy do the weekends make up for it! I have never enjoyed my weekends as much as I do these days. Life is great (although exhausting) and I feel incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life who contribute to making my weekends so much richer week after week.
Happy Monday everyone…or end of it in Europe! Have a fabulous week!